Snowboarding Carnage and Mayhem at Cataloochee Ski

First things first: While I pride myself at being a pretty good skier, I am possibly the world’s worst snowboarder to ever grace the slopes. I am not kidding. Last weekend, Rebecca and I decided to embark on a ninety minute  drive to Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley, NC. For those of you not familiar with Maggie Valley, it is a charming little town in the Smoky Mountains between Asheville, NC and the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

 

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Maggie Mountaineer Craft Store, Maggie Valley, NC

To shed some light on the town’s more shadier past, there are a couple of infamous characters who at one time called Maggie Valley their home. The first was local boogeyman and mass murderer, Peter Lundin. The second was local hero and renown moonshiner, Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton.  Both are gone now. The first is serving a life sentence in a Denmark prison and the second tragically took his own life to avoid being locked away.

Please don’t allow me to give you the wrong impression of this North Carolina mountain town. It’s actually a wonderful place for all sorts of family fun and adventure. There’s camping, cabin rentals, antique shops, craft fairs, mini-golf, snow-tubing, Carolina barbecue, and the list goes on and on. There’s even an amusement park there called Ghost Town in the Sky that was actually built atop a mountain. This truly unique fun park can only be accessed by riding up a 3,370 foot-long  chairlift or an extremely steep railway to the top. Maggie Valley is also home to the most photographed view of the Smokies… and what a spectacular view it is!

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Now before I steer this article so far off course we plunge headlong off a cliff, let’s park this tale back at the Cataloochee Ski Area. It was early evening when Rebecca and I arrived. We partook in a couple of adult beverages to warm our bones and  decided to try our skills at snowboarding for the very first time.

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The deadly duo hits the slopes at Cataloochee Ski Area in North Carolina.

 

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If I was doing a story about a recent ski trip, this article most likely would’ve included a panoramic view of the Smokies from the summit. I might have been captured on lens catching some mad air; maneuvering skillfully through some moguls on a black diamond, or racing Rebecca to the bottom of the slopes. But since this story is about snowboarding instead of skiing, well, the lack of any legitimate snowboarding shots should speak for themselves.

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As a matter of fact, you’ll only find a single photograph of me actually standing on my board. We didn’t bring a fast enough camera to snap any of that hardcore action where I’m upright and moving at the same time.

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Mere seconds before the carnage.

 

 

The ski patrol asked me to take a break so they could catch a breather as well. 

That brings me to another aspect of snowboarding that totally baffles me. How does a 200 pound, forty-year old man get back to his feet once he falls in that slick, hard-packed snow? I tried the board in the front technique; the board in the back technique; even tried the board in the air technique after I got pissed and began walking down the bunny slope. Yeah, snowboarding is really hard.

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My most oft-repeated scene: Lying on my back, staring up into the dark, cold sky. 

In the end, I decided to do what seemed to be working best for me. I simply strapped in and allowed the board to take me where it wanted me to go. Why fight it anymore? Sometimes you have to just go with the flow. The board seemed to like the areas outside the confines of the slopes the best. There was this grove of lovely birch trees that we visited on more than one occasion. Though the circumference of their trunks are rather narrow, surprisingly those trees can  withstand some rather violent brunt trauma.

I also shut down a chairlift, got entangled in some boundary fencing, swam a creek, and dented a minivan parked in the resort’s gravel parking lot. (The woman shouldn’t have parked so close to the lodge.)

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There’s my little ski bunny!

Though Rebecca didn’t fare much better, she could boast that nobody got hurt and no property was damaged during her entire experience.

On the drive home, Rebecca and I came to a unanimous decision. Should we ever elect to go snowboarding again, we would definitely shell out a few dollars for some lessons.

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This guy doesn’t have a clue!

Better yet, we’ll probably just stick to what we know and stay on the skis. Thank you for reading my miserable story and I hope you visit my site again soon. Feel free to explore other areas of my blog, post a comment, and share some love on social media.

Happy travels,

Big John


Posted in Adventurous Places, North America, Tall Tales and Big Fish Stories and tagged , by with 2 comments.

Zipping Through the Gorge

My heart races in exhilaration. The dark forest floor lying hundreds of feet below passes beneath me in a blur. I am zipping throughThe Gorge, the fastest and highest zipline in all of North America.

For my forty-first birthday, Rebecca surprised me by taking me to the  Gorge Zipline Canopy Tour in Saluda, North Carolina. For all you adventure seekers and adrenaline junkies out there, this is one place you can’t afford to miss. The zip lines are amazing, the views are spectacular, and the friendly  professional  staff couldn’t get any better! After completing your 3.5 hours of zipping through the breathtaking Green River Gorge, chill out on the lofty deck on the back of their barn-shaped building. While  there, wind down and enjoy a cold craft beer in the open mountain air. Before leaving,  stop by the Gorge’s gift shop for some really awesome gear and apparel. If you haven’t ever been ziplining, or if it’s been awhile, you might as well do it right by traveling to the Gorge in scenic Saluda, NC. This is Big John’s experience posted below.

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The entire zip lining crew from left to right: Newlyweds Nathan and Brittany, Newlyweds Daria and Daniel, and the engaged Rebecca with Big John.

 

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Soaring high over the Green River Gorge.

 

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Go Daria!

 

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One of our expert guides!

 

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Newlyweds Nate and Brittany.

 

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There she goes! Racing over 6,500 feet of zip lines!

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Big John getting sweet on his baby doll!

 

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 Just look at that pretty smile! Rebecca smiles is nice too.

 

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Rebecca looking way too cool for school!

 

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Overlooking 10,000 acres of Appalachian beauty. 

 

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Nate may be smiling on the outside, but I sense a lot of fear in his heart!

 

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Dan wanted a picture with his back to the camera. He said he looked silly with all those tears in his eyes.

 

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Brittany just hangin’ out under a canopy of trees!

 

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Daniel and Daria sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G…

 

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Finally got a picture of Dan facing the camera.  You can’t even tell he’d been crying!

 

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Dan, the man!

 

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Daria is a natural!

 

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What’s the weight limit again on one of these things?

 

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Check out  Rebecca’s guns! Obviously she’s been juicing!

 

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Traversing the Sky Bridge In the heart of the gorge.

 

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What a couple of lovebirds!

 

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Rebecca in a free-fall!

 

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Big John – the action figure!

 

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Just look at that drop!

 

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She likes the rough stuff, what can I say?

 

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Daria  rappells to the platform below. Hang in there, girl!

 

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Brittany taking the plunge!

 

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If  you ever fall off the Sears Tower just go real limp, them maybe people will try to catch you because, hey, free dummy.” – Jack Handey 

 

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They say his body still lies there, undisturbed after all these many months .

 

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Big John and his baby doll on the Sky Bridge.

 

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Here is your ticket to flying in The Gorge

 

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Daria and Dan waiting on the rest of the crew to cross over.

 

 

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Book your next adventure here @ The Gorge

Thank you for reading my article and I hope you visit my site again real soon. Feel free to explore other areas of my blog, post a comment, and share some love on social media.

Happy Travels,

Big John


Posted in Adventurous Places, North America and tagged , , by with no comments yet.
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